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2 years ago

Android 'fragmentation' -- why it really matters to you and me

51

It's fun to say Android is fragmented on the Internet.  All the cool kids and blogs do it, they even make fancy misleading charts about it.  While there's more than one side to the argument -- choice versus fragmentation -- only the most rabid fanboy would say that it doesn't exist.  I tend to think the whole issue is living with the choice you make.  If you want the "Android" experience, buy a Nexus phone.  If you prefer the experience an OEM offers, buy one of their phones.  Both are the right choice.  But there's an underlying issue that gets forgotten when we talk about updates and versions -- security patches.

The diversity of Android gives us a chance to have this user experience regardless of the platform version it's built from.  That doesn't make the want for the new software any less, but it a fair trade for most people.  Ice Cream Sandwich looks a whole helluva lot like TouchWiz 4.  Security issues are another matter entirely.  HTC had a recent issue about user privacy, have a read if you aren't familiar (be sure to read HTC's response as well).  They caused it.  They quickly pushed out a patch to at least one carrier to address it.  All security issues need to be addressed this way.  If HTC, or, Samsung, or LG, or Motorola -- whomever -- builds the OS and sells it to the carrier, they need to follow up with security patches in a timely manner -- either by updating their base to the latest Android version and building their OS with it, or patching the issue themselves with the current code base.  Users deserve the benefit that patches to the bootloader, or browser, or whatever, much faster than companies and carriers get them rolled out.  Yes, that responsibility is shared by the carrier as well.  While they aren't the people responsible for updating the code and building the operating system, they are the people that accept your money for the device.  Carriers and OEMs need to work together to keep the phone secure for the life of the product, even if they don't work to keep the software version current.

On the enterprise side of things (something that OEMs are starting to take more seriously), this becomes critical.  Companies simply can't sit back and ignore the fact they aren't getting security patches, because their money is on the line.  Documents, contacts, and communications need to be secure as possible, and when cracks in the armor are found, the patches need to come quickly.  They don't, and this is a problem. 

I know that making sure your phone isn't susceptible to the latest bootloader hack isn't near as glamorous as getting Ice Cream Sandwich, or even Gingerbread.  These few words can't make that happen.  But I think we need to be pointing out the right issues -- not having a phone that is secure for the life of its contract is one of them.

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2 years ago

Android Wallpaper Review: RLW Live Wallpaper Pro

5

Let me be the first to say, yes, I know this app has a redundant name. It's called Rotating Live Wallpaper, but its full name is RLW Live Wallpaper Pro. So you've got LW Live Wallpaper, which essentially translates into Live Wallpaper Live Wallpaper, but I digress.

At first glance, RLW Live Wallpaper looks startlingly similar to Mystic Halo, but upon closer inspection you'll notice it's less TRON and more Honeycomb, actually. It looks like the stock Honeycomb clock widget if it got bloated and put on a few extra rings.

What RLW gets you is a series of circles that... rotate. You can have up to seven circles on the screen at once and control the rotation direction of each one individually. You can also mess with the size of the circle, so it'll take up as much (or as little) of the screen as you want.

Perhaps the best feature of RLW is the theming. It comes with five themes included, but there's also a slew of free ones in the Market. The developer was also kind enough to toss in a link with the template, so anyone can design a theme if they want to.

As far as performance goes, there's just the slightest hint of lag (we're talking nearly unnoticeable here) when scrolling from screen to screen on my tablet. On my phone, things are a bit better, but I'm not sure why.

It also needs to be noted that not all the themes look great on a tablet. While they're definitely great looking on a phone, certain themes look slightly grainy or pixelated when blown up to a full 10 inches. It's kind of hit or miss, so you'll have to cycle through your options to see what looks the best for you.

All in all, it's a pretty cool live wallpaper, even if the whole rotating circles thing has been done before. RLW Live Wallpaper Pro is 99 cents in the Android Market.

We've got a video, more screenshots, and download links after the break.

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2 years ago

Google Books updated, promising "better support for 7-inch tablets"

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Hot on the heels of Barnes and Nobles' latest update to the Nook for Android app, Google have followed suit with a little update to their own Google Books app. 

The changelog touts the ability to +1 a book while reading, in book search and landscape mode for flowing text on phones, and perhaps more interestingly promises better support for 7-inch tablets. 

With the impending launch of the Kindle Fire and Nook Tablet, Google doesn't seem to want to be left out in the e-reading stakes. While there isn't a great deal of choice in the 7-inch tablet space as yet, it's still a nice feature to have included. Plus it'll work on your hacked Nook Color

Download links after the break.

 

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2 years ago

Google wants you to win a Samsung Galaxy Nexus of your own - 10 chances in 10 days

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Google was teasing us all earlier by letting us know they had a treat coming for everyone and now -- we know what it is. Google has held quite a few contests in the past but this one is big for those looking to get a free Samsung Galaxy Nexus:

Announcing the Galaxy Nexus Challenge: 10 chances in 10 days for @googlenexus followers to win a tasty Galaxy Nexus w/ Android 4.0 #ICS

Challenge 1 goes live Saturday 11/12 9am Pacific Time. Galaxy Nexus Challenge eligibility: must follow @googlenexus and include @googlenexus in body of posts. Limit one entry per person per day. Galaxy Nexus Challenge open to residents of Australia,Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong,Japan, Netherlands,Singapore, Spain,South Korea, United Kingdom or 50 United States and District of Columbia. Void in certain areas as described in full rules. And speaking of those full rules, you can find them linked here as a PDF.

Source: @Googlenexus / Google+

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2 years ago

Samsung Skyrocket hands-on and initial review

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More in the Samsung Skyrocket forums

The Samsung Skyrocket is the AT&T LTE version of the Galaxy S II.  Built with slightly different hardware, and at a bit bigger size, and (the best part for many) the addition of an AT&T LTE radio for their blossoming LTE 4G network.  When a package from Dallas arrived, I know it could only be one thing, and we've got one of these beauties to put through the wringer and see what we think of it.

Jump past the break for a quick hands-on look, some first impressions, a smattering of pictures and some specs of one of AT&T's first LTE smartphones.

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2 years ago

RAZR arrival, Galaxy Nexus treat [From the Forums]

1

We've rolled through another week and got plenty of content up for you all so if you're looking to catch up on whatever you may have missed from this week -- this weekend, is as good a time as any to caught up. You can catch it all here on the blogs or in the Android Central forums:

If you're not already a member of the Android Central forums, you can register your account today.

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2 years ago

LG Nitro HD looks to be heading to AT&T, LTE bands intact

13

With LG having announced the Optimus LTE for the Korean market not long ago, and then having a variation the device arrive on Bell Mobility in Canada the question of whteher or not it would see any US carrier launches arose. While we won't take a simple image as fact -- clearly the idea of the Android 2.3 powered device making its way to AT&T has been bounced around and if and it arrives it will comes as the LG Nitro HD.

If it does land there, you'll be looking at a 1.5GHz dual-core processor, an 1830 mAh battery as well as an 8-megapixel rear camera with LED flash, and a 1.3MP shooter up front. A full 1GB of RAM, 4GB of internal storage, and a 16GB microSD card. And let's not forget that "True HD IPS" display and of course support for AT&T's LTE as well as their 21Mbs HSDPA network.

Source: Pocketnow

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2 years ago

Android App Review: Minimal Reader Pro

3

As we wait for the impending update to the Google Reader app, I took to looking for other cool ways to consume everything on my Reader feed. Through my journey in the Market, I discovered not an app, but a widget called Minimal Reader Pro.

Minimal Reader Pro is awesome because not only does it save you the hassle of opening an app (precious seconds are lost when opening apps!), it looks absolutely incredible while doing it.

Setting Minimal Reader Pro up is easy as π. Do your long-press, choose Minimal Reader Pro, and you'll be prompted to attach a Google Reader account. If you don't feel like syncing a Reader account, you can still use a custom feed URL, but it's suggested you go the Reader route.

Once you've got an account linked and synced, you can pick which particular feeds you want to view. If you want to see everything, you can do that. If not, you can cherry pick your most entertaining feeds from the Manage menu.

The Settings menu gives you some nifty options, like setting an age filter (when to stop showing something because it's too old), the ability to filter read news, turning off image loading, and setting your refresh rate, total entries on the widget, and maximum items per label. If it sounds like a lot, it's not overwhelming in the slightest and is pretty damn easy to work through, really.

The last panel (Display) is where you really get to make Minimal Reader Pro your own. There's three themes to pick from (Classic White, Dark Glass, and Ice Cream Sandwich), each with their own look. You can also turn the background on and off (a great option depending on the kind of wallpaper you have), turn on square corners, or mark items read while reading them.

You can also set the text size and alignment (nothing groundbreaking here), but it's nice that the developer thought to include it.

Now that your settings are all set up and your widget is on the screen, you can scroll up and down like in any menu, and tapping on a story opens it up to read. Unread stories are bolded, while storeis you've read are displayed with a regular font. You can mark all stories read by tapping the check mark on the far right, and if you touch the heart icon, you'll be shown a list of only your favorite articles.

The settings gear and refresh icon are obvious in their function, as is the "____ new" reading in the center of the widget.

All in all, Minimal Reader Pro is a really gorgeous way to consume any RSS feeds on your device. If you're keen on using widgets, are an avid Reader or RSS user, and want to use something that both looks great and gets the job done, look no farther than Minimal Reader Pro.

Minimal Reader Pro is $1.09 in the Android Market.

We've got download links and more pictures after the break.

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2 years ago

Fuugo is here to aggregate your video and cure your boredom

3

Fuugo is a new app to the Android Market and brings along with it some pretty cool features for digging out the best video on the web from various sources such as Youtube, Break, TEDTalks and more. You can save searches, make playlists and even download some videos when enabled for offline viewing.  As the developers describe it:

Fuugo Video is the ultimate video convergence application for tablets and smart phones. Fuugo aggregates various video content sources into one app. You’ll get news, music, nature, science, epic fails, whatever…You’ll get video recommendations from your friends and you’ll get great video recommendations from Fuugo!

You can Tweet your friends about your favorite clips and you’ll have a free video search and you’ll have a great related search! In addition, Fuugo allows you to generate your own playlists and you can download video content to go too.

Support for tablets is in place and the app overall does look great on device. Rather then having to go out and search in various places for a video -- Fuugo does manage to do what it implies, it can find the content you're looking for and when looking to waste a few mins it's great to have. You'll find some more screenshots past the break as well as the download link for it.

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2 years ago

Best Buy's Black Friday sale has Samsung Stratosphere in white (and others), free with contract

10

Black Friday looks to be full of free Android phones at Best Buy, including the Samsung Stratosphere in white.  While a store offering "free" phones after you sign a two-year contract is nothing new, this years selection at Best Buy looks like some great hardware if you're not the kind who has to have the latest new and shiny Android phone.  Sprint customers can get a EVO Shift 4G free with their contract, Verizon customers can choose from a Droid Incredible 2 or a Samsung Stratosphere (both in white or black), and AT&T subscribers can choose from a Thrill 4G, an Atrix 2, or (if your a masochist) the BlackBerry Torch 9810.

Of course free is never really free, and if you're signing up for a new two year agreement you're certainly spending quite the chunk of cash.  But phones like these might prove to be a better choice that some of the entry-level Android handsets, and that white Stratosphere looks hawt.

Thanks, Shawheim!

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